Former Chief Assistant Testifies to Robert De Niro’s Aggressive Behavior in Court

by Chloe Baker
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De Niro trial

In recent court proceedings, Robert De Niro’s former chief personal assistant of over ten years, Graham Chase Robinson, provided testimony that characterized the actor’s temper as volatile, citing an incident in court earlier this week as indicative of his alleged abusive conduct toward her.

Robinson took the stand in a late session at the federal court in Manhattan, where a jury is examining the mutual civil complaints brought forth by De Niro and Robinson. Since concluding his testimony on Tuesday, De Niro, often referred to simply as “Bob” in the courtroom, has not made an appearance.

Robinson has initiated a lawsuit against the acclaimed actor, alleging gender discrimination and seeking retributive damages amounting to $12 million. Conversely, De Niro has filed a counterclaim accusing Robinson of violating her duty of loyalty and misappropriating 5 million air mile points meant for his children’s use—she was only authorized to use 1 or 2 million. He is claiming $6 million for this breach.

The courtroom witnessed De Niro’s temper when, frustrated by accusations of him being abusive and misogynistic, he berated Robinson, exclaiming, “Shame on you, Chase Robinson!” before swiftly offering an apology.

When questioned about the frequency of such outbursts from De Niro, Robinson recalled the recent courtroom incident, noting, “He yelled at me two days ago.”

Robinson’s testimony, which lasted approximately thirty minutes, was set to continue the following day.

Preceding her was the deposition of Tiffany Chen, De Niro’s partner, who reported several conflicts with Robinson in 2019 related to a townhouse acquisition and subsequent planning, which eventually led to Robinson’s departure from Canal Productions, one of De Niro’s businesses.

Starting in 2008 and with her role evolving from executive assistant to vice president of production and finance, Robinson’s compensation increased from an initial $75,000 to $300,000. De Niro acknowledged the promotion was at Robinson’s behest, though he contended her responsibilities remained unchanged.

Chen, in a series of email exchanges presented to the jury, accused Robinson of fostering a delusion of closeness with De Niro, branding her as “mean, insecure, territorial” and likening her behavior to that of a spouse or the “lady of the house.”

When cross-examined about these emails, Chen doubled down on her accusations, labeling Robinson as “crazy.”

Robinson, in response to suggestions that she harbored romantic feelings towards De Niro, firmly rejected any attraction to him and denied aspirations of cohabitation, marriage, or starting a family with him.

In further testimony, Robinson described her obligation to be on-call, referencing the so-called “bat phone” that De Niro expected her to answer regardless of the hour. Contrary to De Niro’s statement that his calls were within “civilized hours,” Robinson delineated a rigorous communication schedule with him that could begin as early as 5:30 a.m. and extend as late as 10:30 p.m.

The expectation of her constant availability was such that she would carry her phone even to the restroom and steer clear of areas lacking cellular reception.

Robinson recounted instances where De Niro would insist on contact even during her personal time, such as attending to family emergencies or social occasions. She remembered a particular night when De Niro requested she deliver a martini to him post-midnight, which she did, finding him in his nighttime attire.

The court will continue to hear Robinson’s detailed accounts as the case progresses.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about De Niro assistant lawsuit

What is the nature of the legal dispute between Robert De Niro and his former assistant Graham Chase Robinson?

Robert De Niro and his former assistant, Graham Chase Robinson, are engaged in a legal battle where Robinson has sued De Niro for gender discrimination and is seeking $12 million in damages. De Niro has countersued for breach of loyalty and fiduciary duty, claiming she misappropriated 5 million air mile points and is seeking $6 million in damages.

Did Robert De Niro apologize for his behavior in court?

Yes, Robert De Niro apologized after an outburst in court where he berated Robinson by saying, “Shame on you, Chase Robinson!” This incident was highlighted as an example of the allegedly abusive behavior Robinson faced while working for De Niro.

What claims has Tiffany Chen, De Niro’s partner, made against Robinson?

Tiffany Chen claimed that Robinson was “mean, insecure, and territorial,” and accused her of having an “imaginary intimacy” with De Niro. Chen described Robinson’s behavior as akin to someone who “thinks she’s your wife” and “wants to be the lady of the house.”

How did Graham Chase Robinson describe her work conditions while employed by Robert De Niro?

Robinson described a demanding work environment where she was expected to be constantly available to answer De Niro’s calls, which she referred to as the “bat phone,” at any hour. She testified that De Niro would call her multiple times a day, starting as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 10:30 p.m., even when she had notified him of her unavailability.

Has Graham Chase Robinson denied having a romantic interest in Robert De Niro?

Yes, when questioned in court, Graham Chase Robinson denied any romantic attraction to Robert De Niro. She also refuted any desire to live with him, marry him, or have a child with him, which counters Tiffany Chen’s implications.

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